Two months ago, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told reporters, “If you’re looking for a circumstance where the president of the United States was threatening the Ukraine with cutting off aid unless they investigated his political opponent, you’d be very disappointed. That does not exist.”
A month later, the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman set an important standard in the president’s Ukraine scandal: “If you could show me that, you know, Trump actually was engaging in a quid pro quo, outside the phone call, that would be very disturbing.”
Again, it’s now overwhelmingly clear that Trump was actually engaging in a quid pro quo, outside the July 25 phone call between the American president and Ukrainian president Volodomyr Zelenskiy.
It’s against this backdrop that the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee has decided to pursue a new line of inquiry – against Joe Biden. Politico reported late yesterday:
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) requested records from the State Department on Thursday related to then-Vice President Joe Biden’s efforts to oust a Ukrainian prosecutor in 2016.
The letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo comes as Republicans seek to train scrutiny on Biden’s actions in Ukraine amid impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump over his own efforts to pressure Ukraine’s government to investigate his would-be rival for the White House.
Graham is seeking records related to phone calls that occurred in February and March 2016 between Biden and Ukraine’s then-president, Petro Poroshenko, regarding U.S. demands that the country fire its top prosecutor. The prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, was unpopular with Western leaders, who viewed him as corrupt, and Biden was representing official U.S. policy and that of allied governments.
The Washington Post added, “Graham’s document request suggests he is seeking to legitimize Trump’s accusations that Biden, then vice president, put pressure on Ukraine to fire its lead prosecutor to protect his son, a claim without evidence that has been disputed by officials familiar with the investigation.”
In case anyone’s forgotten, it’s worth emphasizing that Graham told reporters in late September that he had no intention of launching a Biden-related investigation through the Senate Judiciary Committee. In the weeks that followed, as the House impeachment inquiry proceeded, witnesses – including one called by Republicans to testify – made it explicitly clear that the conspiracy theories directed at Biden have no basis in reality.
And yet, when confronted with this information, Graham decided to pursue Biden anyway. The South Carolinian’s career has had its share of ups and downs, but this appears to be a low point.
Evidently, the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman has shifted his attention from one unfortunate partisan dispute to another.